Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice today

It's officially winter, and the days are getting longer now.

In case you were wondering, the definition of "meteorological winter" is the period of the three coldest months of the year.  In this hemisphere, that would be the months of December, January, and February.  Duh.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Solstice Wave

Took my (AT) first wave flight out of Springfield, VT for the winter during the solstices (actually a week early).  Up north it was completely socked in, to the south there was no clouds but at Okemo there was just the right amount of clouds.  Wave was 1-2 kts down low, increased to 3-4 kts up to 13,000', and then slowed back down above 13,000'.  I was still climbing at 1-2 kts at 15,000' when I headed down to tow the next flight.

Walter and Peter Kelley took the next flight (i1) but couldn't connect to wave.  Then Walter flew with Bob Morehardt (i1) for about an hour and a half but could only get to 8,500'.

 Looking North - too cloudy

 Looking South - too clear

Looking at VSF from 9 nm away, 2 nm up and 50 kt tailwind - final glide even for a space shuttle

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wave Camp 10/10/16

Dennis sent in some pictures of his and Evan's flight in the Blanik.  They got up to about 14,000'.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Name that club member

This one is trickier than most.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Go Yankees

Congratulations to Evan and Dan, who flew to first and sixth place yesterday at the Region 4S contest in New Castle, Virginia.  In the overall standings, Evan is 4th and Dan is 9th, with two days to go.

Here is what a flight in southern Virginia looks like when the ridges aren't working (northeast wind yesterday).  The 4-turn Task took the pilots to the northeast originally, with a return from the southwest.

At the bottom of the image above, you can see Dan's last climb before his final glide. He really needed it:

And here's a closeup of that climb:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Field landing

Dan landed out in a nice field yesterday. He and Evan are at the Region 4 South contest in New Castle, Virginia. The contest runs through the weekend, and the results are published on the SSA website.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

First flight of DG in DG

Congratulations to Don Graber for his first flight in his new DG-300!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Solo effort

It isn't easy to go soaring without any help. On Monday, Henry came to the field to fly, got his glider ready, waited for the towpilot to show up, and then had a nice flight. He writes:

A dew point spread in the high 20s and the sky was completely blue. Postponed launch until after 2:00 waiting for some cloud development but none developed anywhere near the field.

I decided to get the rust off and see what I could find planning a high tow. Rick towed me in 3J to 4400 feet and after doubling back on a modest thermal southwest of the field I released. I got back to the thermal, and tried a turn or two with little gain so went shopping. Found a better section of perhaps the same thermal at about 3700 feet and put on 500 feet - then I lost it.

Moved further north over fields southwest of Tug and played with the thermals there, losing a bit all the time. Headed over to the lake to see if there was any lift there. No luck so came back towards the IP thinking that my ride might be done, At 2700 feet, I found the best lift of the day over the east edge of airport and got 200 fpm all the way back up to 4500 feet.

In straight flight I would occasionally see 400 or even 500 fpm for a brief moment but never found it while circling. Now I was high and saw the big fields of the Connecticut River beckoning so went over to try them. Went east and then north almost to the Fairlee bridge with nothing better than holding even. Time to get back home as the field was looking low on my glide slope. When I got to the east side of the airport I had 2300 feet , maybe enough to just get to the IP at 1900. I circled twice to to see if I could gain a bit of altitude but not much there.

I had sat long enough on the thin cushion I have to use to fit in 3J and decided to enter a long downwind with a lot of spoiler to burn off my height. Good landing, coming to rest at the windsock.

Later Brian helped me tow it to tie down. 1 hour and 30 minutes in the air!

So don't be afraid of sharpening your skills on a blue day. Just take a high tow. I am glad I did.

Monday, September 12, 2016

911 Wave Flight

Wave season has started (AT).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tricky Grass Field

I wonder what these guys would have done if they had encountered Echo Alpha in the pattern.

You can't be too careful at a tricky grass field, especially one surrounded by hills and full of gliders.

On departure, our visitors downgraded us from tricky to scary. They're welcome back any time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

First XC by Mark Hopkins

I flew my first x-country flight on Saturday with Greg Hanlon (JD). I took a 3K tow and parked under a dark cloud to the south of Tug. The lift was weak, but I managed to work up to 4100’ or so. The cloud base was probably 4500’, but couldn’t make it. Our task was to head NE so I flew a few miles to a spot on the north side of the airport to wait for Greg. He joined me soon and we headed to the ridge between PM and the river and tried to gain as much altitude as possible for crossing the desert between PM and the first clouds over near Cube. I circled awhile under a decent cloud and got up to 4500’ or so. At this point Greg said there was nothing to be gained by waiting. He pointed out that we had Dean by 2000’ or so, although there was a substantial disagreement between JD’s glide computer and mine - mine said Dean by 1500’ (Greg had put my polar into his computer, which was really thoughtful of him). I definitely would not have made the jump if I were by myself, but having Greg’s experience and coaching made all the difference. I was very surprised that once I committed to Dean I didn’t think about PM again. We worked our way towards the first mountains and found enough scratchy thermals to maintain our altitude WRT Dean, although my MSL was decreasing. Eventually, we reached the NW shoulder of Moosilauke. At this point I was showing 1200’ to Dean although Greg had me somewhat higher. I almost pulled the plug here and headed for Dean (I think I was down to 3500’). Just when things looked bleak (to me) we found a decent thermal that took me to 4500’ and put us in glide for Franconia. We headed for the ridge at the back side of Cannon and found plenty of good lift to take us over the north end. The thermals here were topping out about 5500’. So things were starting to work. Listening to the radio of the goings on at Post Mills where folks were falling out added to the excitement of having made our getaway. Greg was making things pretty easy for me, looking ahead, coaching constantly, and patiently circling overhead while I thermaled slowly upward. All I had to do was fly my plane and try not to do anything stupid. Over the mountains it was a beautiful soaring day with plenty of nicely spaced cumuli. We still stopped at almost every cloud to tank up, which I suspect Greg might not have done without me. But perhaps it wasn’t the easiest day either. So we flew over Franconia ridge at 5500’ or so and then continued over to Garfield and on to Twin Mt. I think I reached 6000’, my high point for the day, at one point. The scenery over the mountains was awesome. I really enjoyed flying along the ridges and taking a little time to watch the scenery below. Our goal was the Mt Washington Hotel, but the clouds there had a different character. The cloud base was lower, the bases were wispy and the area looked overdeveloped. At some point Dan Mac (EA) passed us on his way to Washington after escaping PM. Greg probably would have continued, but he thought things might get a little bit exciting and that I had had about as much stress as I could take. So we turned around and headed back along the ridge to Garfield, over Cannon and on to Moosilauke. The flight home was as easy as the flight out was hard. There was plenty of lift and we passed Moosilauke at almost 5000’ with PM in comfortable, fast glide. We got to Post Mills at 1800’ (just as the glide computer predicted). 
Looking back on the flight, I think that it has given me the confidence to venture out on my own. I know that Greg was balancing a lot of variables that I was just dimly aware of that made our flight possible, but the essential parts of the experience are to make the psychological leap to leave PM behind and make Dean (or Warren) your airport and then to maintain a sufficient reserve altitude to glide to each successive airport as you move away from PM and again when you return.  Having done that once, I hope I can do it again.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Brontosaurus vs forest

If you've never seen a forest being eaten, you should come out to the airport today.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Name That Club Member

Another Clue.  This photo was taken the same day.

The New Post Mills Airport

Rich sent in a couple of pictures of the runways after the tree work.

Franconia Encapment - Ridge, Thermal, Wave

The weather could not have been better for this year's 4th of July encampment.  We had hot days, cool nights and not a drop of rain.  Soaring wise we had strong ridge, thermal and wave lift all happening at the same time.  There was so much flying and other activities that I am sure I will miss a lot of highlights.  Please feel free to add the this report in the comment section.
Lane and Don on the Franconia Ridge

The weekend started off right with Lane and Don ferrying the Blanik from Post Mills.  Andy acted as tow pilot as he did for the entire weekend.  They release over Kinsman and Lane gave Don an introduction to ridge soaring in the 25 kt wind.  Don later put the knowledge he gained to solo 3J in the ridge lift for a couple of hours.  Next it was Tim's turn to take Ann for an introduction to sailplanes.  Ann is a hang gliding friend of our former hang gliding members but had never been in a sailplane.  They were able to ridge soar/thermal right off tow into wave only stopping at 14,000' for lack of oxygen.  Karl (PM), Evan (T8), Dan (EA), Tom (2W), Andy Lawrence (PM), Tony (in the Blanik with Tim) and maybe others, were able to connect with wave.  Evan (T8) flew over to the Mount Washington primary and reported he had 18 kts of wave lift at times.  He had to stop at 18,000' for class A airspace.  Tom (2W) had a really cool flight.  He was able to hop wave crests up wind towards the Green Mountains to Hardwick but was finally stopped by the undercast.

Evan at 18,000' on Saturday

The annual BBQ at the Kinsman lived up to its reputation as being fantastic.  Thank you Judy, Ann C. and Marsha for doing the heavy lifting and to Karl for grilling.

I was not at the airport Sunday but I heard Dan (EA), Tom (2W) and Evan (T8) all broke off climbs at 18,000' in the Mt. Washington primary.  Back at Franconia the ridge and thermals were also working well all day.  There were many good flights.

Evan at 18,000' on Sunday
Dan Mac at 18,000' in wave, upside-down, and wearing shorts - doesn't get much better.
Dan crossing Franconia Notch

That evening the club was invited to Phil's house on Sugar Hill for fireworks and more BBQ.  Phil puts on an amazing fireworks display.

The wind died down on Monday and so did the ridge, wave and thermal lift.  People stayed closer to the airport for a more relaxed day.
Tim and Michael rock polishing Mt. Lafayette

A friend of a friend took this picture of Evan over Mt. Washington

And while we were all in Franconia, Moshe (RU) was representing PMSC at the Region 1 Contest in Springfield Vt.  Please give us your impression of your first contest, Moshe.
Chris tells Moshe how to get to Starbucks - the girls are not impressed.

Friday, June 24, 2016

It isn't as easy as it looks

to catch this guy's wingtip every day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Weekend Report - June 17-19

Rick is off to the Open Class Nationals in Nephi, UT so I am reporting this week.  Rick is crewing for Dick Butler and his Concordia.  The Concordia is probably the highest performance sailplane ever built.  Here's a picture I stole off the web.  They say its Rick but I'm not sure.

Friday was a spectacular day.  Andy towed 7 slackers and everyone had good flights except Evan (T8) who had a spectacular flight.  Evan flew a declared 600 km triangle for a NH state record and then add a few more km to score 860 OLC points.   Ok, Greg (JD)  had a spectacular flight too.  It was his personal best, 610 OLC points.  Dan (EA) and Tim (PM) had flights 500 and 400 km.  Dennis (DC) had a very nice flight to Lafayette.  Henry and Andy Lawrence had nice long, and high local flights.   Here is a picture from cloud base (8500') looking toward Lake Champlain (Sugarbush, Camels Hump and Mansfield are visible) at 6 pm.

At the end of the day I got in one more spectacular flight.  A beautiful evening flight in the Birddog to bring Dan home from Franconia.

Saturday was almost a repeat of Friday.  Evan (T8) put in 600 km, Greg (JD), Dan (EA) and Tom (2W) put in 400 km each, and Dennis (DC) went back to the Whites.  I heard rumors that Paul (S1) ended up at the Mt. Snow Airport and was retrieved by a scab tow plane from VSF but the flight log is mysteriously missing.  Dakai, Henry, Rick Sayles, Skip, Don and Willy took training flights or extended local flights.  Thanks for towing Doug, and Lane and Gregg for instructing.

On Sunday the pilots rested.  Dan (EA), Greg (JD), and Tom (2W) took leisurely flights up to Mt. Washington.   Dakai, Heather, and Matt flew locally.

After this weekend PMSC has 3 of the top 5 place on the OLC for Region 1.